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Meet Caroline

 
Caroline

Caroline Schneider

cschneider@rollins.edu


Year: Summer 2009
Hometown: Maitland, FL
Major: Music (minor: English)

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Caroline's E-Journal Archives:

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February 5, 2009

 

Final Thoughts on Finals


May 6, 2009

Allow me to describe the past couple of weeks: stress-filled sleepless nights, very groggy days, and coffee-laden cups. Well, two out of three isn’t bad. The days and nights are true, but I can’t stand coffee. Love the smell, hate the taste. I wish I liked it. Coffee certainly would make finals easier. Instead, I employed creative ideas to stay awake. I’ve taken to pinching myself, munching on cookies, and walking around the room to stave off sleep. I write paper after paper, trying to carry my laptop around my pace-track. If I sit down, the danger of missing deadlines proves too great. The cookies help fuel my papers.

Ah, final exams. The season of theses, papers, tests, presentations, and last projects. Procrastination weighs heavily on every decision made and every sentence typed. It’s incredibly easy to put deadlines off. The only trouble is that finals don’t go away. Dates edge closer and word counts seem greater with only days (or hours) left to finish assignments. I’m the first to admit that academic life at the Holt School can be extremely difficult. Professors challenge, encourage, and expect the very best from each and every student. In an emergency situation, most extend courteous amounts of extra time. Unfortunately, the “I’ve just been so busy and I didn’t realize it was due today” excuse hasn’t been known to work very well.

With a semester’s impending end, Holt students find themselves even more busy than usual, as if regular amounts of school, work, and family weren’t enough. Finals have a way of bringing out the dichotomy in students, the simultaneous best and worst, depending on the situation. Some of us write better under pressure, while others freeze beneath the calendar’s glare. Group projects and presentations often pair students with differing ideas which, if handled well, describe an informative, interesting speech, but can also make for a disaster if a group is thrown together at the last minute. Final exams, often the most stressful of all, can bring about great grades if students put the time into studying for them. Sometimes, though, the pressure of testing can overwhelm students. In my own experience, I’ve found essay responses to be the venue I’m most comfortable in for finals. Multiple choice exams trip me up because I tend to over-think responses and stumble over the validity of each decision.

Extracurricular activities also absorb whatever free time is left during finals. For me, this means preparing for final concerts and shows in the music department. Finding enough time to practice selected songs proves almost impossible when I stack it against exam preparation and library visits. That reminds me, a quick word about the library on campus-I highly recommend it. The staff is helpful, and the reference librarians are very helpful for finding information related to your paper topics. Olin Library is also great for finding a quiet corner or table where students can study or work on group assignments. Managing time well and understanding syllabus deadlines will help you succeed at the Holt School no matter what your major is.

I wish you the very best in all your endeavors at Rollins College Hamilton Holt School, and thank you for taking the time to read these entries. I hope that you will enjoy the wonderful opportunities for outreach, growth, and achievement that can only be found at Holt. Go Tars!

I'm studying hard, can't you tell?

I'm studying hard, can't you tell?

 
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Science for the Non-Scientist


April 16, 2009

I was the sort of kid in high school who, when asked what subject I found least appealing, would instinctively, immediately exclaim “Science!” without a second thought. Blame it on teachers I couldn’t connect with, a mental block I couldn’t identify, or any other sort of excuse a teenage girl might use. Whatever the reason, I confess that I took the bare minimum of science classes required to graduate from high school and happily moved on to Rollins.

Once on campus, I vowed to keep my ears open for a good science professor, as I was terrified to have my GPA plummet at the hands of a scientist who would sniff out my artistic, musical ways, recognize me for the non-science head that I am, and promptly hand out the “you’re an average student so I’ll give you the average C that you deserve” sort of experience. I mulled my way through school, quick to take classes that fulfilled my major or my minor, but the necessary science requirement hung over me like a cumulous cloud.

Late one night last summer, I talked to my sister about my science fear and about upcoming registration. (She also attends the Holt School, and we try to take at least one class together per semester.) Melissa told me that she had heard great things about an adjunct science teacher at Holt named Gary Wolfe. She informed me that Professor Wolfe teaches a variety of science courses at a high school during the day and instructs Holt students at night. “Apparently, he’s really patient because he works with teenagers,” Melissa said. “And he enjoys putting science in real-world applications so it’s not going to be boring.” Through her persuasion (and only on the condition that she would take the class with me), I signed up for The Geosphere with Lab.

The first night of class rolled around and Melissa and I drove to campus together. I should have known as soon as we arrived. The classroom was filled to overflowing. There wasn’t an empty seat in the place. In fact, when Professor Wolfe entered the classroom, he made sure that everyone had a chair and then proceeded to override several students into the class. From the very first, his lectures were infused with humor, real-life experiences, stories, and visual aids.

Professor Wolfe changed my opinion and thought process about how a science course could go. He worked tirelessly to bring complex concepts to a place that I could not only comprehend, but also understand and like. In a way, I’m glad that I waited so long to work up the courage to take a science course. My anxieties turned into a blessing because I learned a lot, not only about the discipline, but also about myself and what I was capable of, provided I had a good instructor and a feeling of safety to express my questions and comments about specifics I was unsure about. As it turns out, I’m not afraid of science classes anymore. I’d actually love to take another one. Maybe I will this summer if one’s offered!

 
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Pride, A Fall, & How I Got Through It All


April 16, 2009

The calendar winked at me from its resting place on my desk. Each day brought me one square closer to the circled red one I wanted to avoid. Monday sped quickly into Tuesday, then Wednesday, and by Thursday, I was reduced to pacing around the practice room of the music department on campus. Friday morning, 10 a.m., was fast approaching. One test away from summer break, but of course it was the hardest one of all: my piano jury. I knew what was required of me, and what I’d have to do to achieve a satisfactory final grade in my instrument.

For the umpteenth time, I sat down at the Steinway and rehearsed Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata. I added small amounts of pedal where needed, and I checked and re-checked the dynamics. I knew the sonata through and through. I was absolutely certain, beyond any doubt, that I would perform that piece without incident. I knew what was coming. I’d taken one piano final before and was familiar with the routine: enter the concert hall, play any requested scales, perform your piece from memory, sight read a piece and play it, and then you’re free. No problem. Or so I thought.

Before and during my piano final, I experienced a cognitive error. Overconfidence spread through me and tricked me into believing I could do well without all the work. The belief I had in myself as a prepared and polished musician overtook the reality that while my piece was perfect, I had neglected the other aspects of my final exam. I had not prepared the technical aspects of my performance. I didn’t rehearse many scales, and I’d been so focused on playing “Pathetique” that I’d looked at little else. I believed that my 14 years of training leading up to the test would fill in for my three-month absence from the other areas of study.

I was, as isn’t that surprising, completely wrong. I botched the B-flat major scale, I had to re-start the F-sharp minor arpeggio, and I fudged my way through the sight-reading. If I’d managed my time better instead of using a planning fallacy, I would have played each component of my exam with equal prowess. The poor time management skills I’d exercised had fueled the cycle. I didn’t plan my time because I was overly sure of myself. I left the auditorium silently and made my way to Diane’s Café, across campus and out of sight. I sat alone, sipping a lemonade and staring across the perfectly cut lawn. While my GPA wasn’t irreparably damaged, my pride took a beating.

I resolved right then and there – at that little wrought iron table – to make a more detailed plan for myself. I knew I needed to manage my time in a way that wouldn’t short-change any part of my college career. I’d gotten sloppy in high school, knowing I could cut corners and still achieve with minimal effort. The Holt School showed me that if I was willing to put the time in, I would succeed and do well. I had to learn this lesson the hard way, but in a way I’m glad I did. I’m also glad it came so quickly. It has helped to shape a more rewarding time at Rollins.

My piano professor sent me back to the drawing board. Through his careful appraisal and cultivation, we were able to construct a time plan that worked with my schedule. He helped me adhere to the schedule and kept me accountable by having me log my time. This individual instruction aided me tremendously in my pursuit of achievement and success, and I’m profoundly grateful to Dr. de Paula for getting me back on track and headed in the right direction.

 
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Scholarship Fundraising, Holt Student Style


March 30, 2009

Volunteer work. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, volunteering means signing up to do something worthwhile, without pay, and with a chipper attitude. Since becoming an active member in the Holt School, I’ve found a place for my community service yearning by signing up to help raise money for Holt School scholarships. Each spring, just in time for the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, I set aside a Sunday afternoon and use that time to sell parking spots to festival patrons. All of the proceeds go to the scholarships.

There was a steady stream of traffic on that particular March weekend, and people eagerly searched for available parking. Many other groups and organizations hoped to raise money, too, and we vied for parkers. In my own experiences (I’ve done this three years running), I’ve found the vast majority of people to be thrilled to benefit education. Most smile and wish us well in our academic endeavors. Because of the enthusiasm of the volunteers, the parking lots we use tend to fill up and stay full. As soon as one person leaves, another is eager to take his place. This year in particular was a banner year in terms of raising money. We raised about $2,000 more than last year, in part due to the pay-to-park rate increase.

We had one family in particular test the flexibility and helpfulness of our lot. This couple arrived with their baby girl and their dog, a Boston terrier named Jake. They paid the $10 we required and happily set off for the festival. A short time later they returned, looking forlorn. The girls I was stationed with inquired what had happened. The family relayed that no dogs were allowed in the festival, so they were going to have to leave. They considered leaving Jake in the car while they went to the festival, but this idea bothered us. We three Holt students were dog lovers and couldn’t bear the idea of this poor little guy getting hot in a car.

“Why not leave him here with us, tied to this sign?” we suggested.

The family happily agreed and left Jake in our care with water and cell phone numbers in case of an emergency. Jake became our mascot of sorts for the afternoon. He kept us company and enjoyed each pat on the head and scratch behind the ears we offered. In the midst of dog sitting, we continued to acquire donations and new patrons. During down time, when our lots were full, we were able to get to know our station buddies better. I got to chat with a couple of great girls about our classes, professors we’ve enjoyed, classes we have taken and hope to take, and plans we have for after graduation.

By the time the family arrived back to take Jake home, we were sorry to have him go. Through our helpful attitudes, I believe we helped to spread the message of the Holt School in a small way. We, like this college, met needs through kindness, flexibility, and a willingness to serve. That’s part of the Rollins experience. We see these sorts of values encouraged and modeled by professors, fellow students, and staff. So many of the people I have encountered at Rollins have done everything within their power to make my needs their own. Through this tireless desire to help and the provision of a going-above-and-beyond attitude, it’s easy to offer volunteer hours to such a wonderful family of educators, supporters, and friends.

 
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A Slice of Musical Life


March 11, 2009

“Practice makes perfect,” my piano professor instructed me. “Practice, study, eat, sleep, and repeat. Practice now, play later.”

“What do you mean?” I said. “When I practice I do play.”

“No, no, no, stop,” he said. “You must focus on accuracy. The music will come later.”

Ah, life in the music department. Few majors enjoy such a community of fellowship, family, and camaraderie. Spending hours in a practice room, cheering each other on at concerts and events, and rehearsing together before an important show comprise daily life in the department. Most majors involve taking classes, studying, and passing exams. At the Holt school, I’ve enjoyed almost all of my classes (except math, I’m so not a math person!) and I’ve learned a great deal from my professors and fellow students. Few departments, however, integrate Arts & Sciences students with Holt School students as much as the music department. Music majors, regardless of whether they are A&S or Holt students, join various choirs and ensembles, participate in concerts and shows, and perform both on and off campus.

Many majors in the Holt school offer the usual afternoon and evening classes; music is a different package altogether. While the core classes are within the “normal” Holt school times, many of the electives and ensembles meet within the Arts & Sciences schedule. This requires a good deal of flexibility in a Holt student’s schedule, especially if a job is involved. In my own life, this has proven difficult. I teach piano lessons in addition to juggling my studies, practice sessions, courses, and extracurricular involvements. Creating a schedule that will accommodate all of this is difficult, I’ll admit. I start in on it well before the semester’s beginning.

One of my favorite things about majoring in music has to be the community and outreach involvement opportunities. I love being part of a group, bringing joy to people through music. Each year, the department publishes a schedule of concerts, the vast majority of which are free and open to the public. Frequently, we have groups that specifically come for our performances.

Part of every music major’s degree requires mandatory attendance to a minimum of twenty concerts per semester. I call this the “let’s make sure we have an audience” rule, but in all actuality, attending concerts improves several things. First, watching others perform helps improve your presence onstage when it’s your turn. Second, cheering on your fellow students allows them to relax and perform at their optimal best. Third, listening to another’s rendition of a piece can change how you listen to something and can make you a better musician. I must admit, I’ve been slow to feel this way. For the longest time, I felt like it was too much. After all of the extra participation, concert performance, instrument lesson practice, and studying, attending concerts ranked dead last for me. I theoretically understood the reasons for concert attendance, but my attitude told me something different. As time passed though, my grouchy reasoning didn’t hold up.

I began to realize the validity of what I’d been told. I found myself enjoying cheering on my friends. I liked hearing different styles of music. I had exposure to many brilliant professional musicians who inspired me to continue this pursuit of life as a musician. Thanks to the combination of a liberal arts education with top-notch musical training, I find myself growing day by day in my life as a student performer. I want to stress, too, that current and prospective students outside of the music department are always a welcome addition to any audience.
Now about that practice makes perfect… I should get back to it.

 
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My Favorite Semester


February 5, 2009

I’ll be graduating soon as a music major with a focus in piano. I’ll also take along an English minor. I’ve been thinking about that prospect a lot lately, and I don’t know if I’m ready to leave the nest yet. Over the past few years, my horizons have broadened and taken shape. I’ve enjoyed my share of wonderful professors, and I’ve participated in many engaging discussions—in other words, I’ve grown up at the Holt School. And like a child preparing to leave the security of home, I found myself flipping through semesters like pages in a scrapbook. In my attic-like memory, I dusted off the recollections and settled on the semester that meant the most to me.

Last November, I sat patiently at my computer, trying to coordinate a class schedule that would allow me to complete requirements while appealing to my interests. I decided upon Music History: Renaissance & Baroque (which let me cross off one of the final classes of my major, and I admit it, I like history). I also added Creative Writing: Fiction Workshop (an upper-level English elective that I’d always wanted to take). The final section of my Applied Music requirement (a fancy way of saying private piano lessons) was an acknowledged necessity. It seemed silly to work so hard only to stop and have my progress backslide. Form & Analysis (a music theory class I thought would be interesting) was my last selection. I had heard good things about the course and figured I had taken so much music theory, how hard could this last one be? Armed with a schedule of mostly three- and four-hundred-level courses, I nervously counted down the days until the Spring 2008 semester started.

From the first night of Creative Writing, I tasted the delicious challenge of building locations, forming scenes, creating a cast of characters, shaping a framework for each scene, and working within a self-made format. I made a portfolio without realizing it as scene after scene came together. I found great encouragement from Professor Bruce Aufhammer, the workshop wrangler. His overwhelmingly positive support allowed sheer creativity to take place. I’ve never experienced such a surge in creative self-esteem.

In Form & Analysis, I was literally besieged with a new level of music theory. I never looked at a Bach invention the way we did in that class. I’m sure I never will again either. We discussed pieces, diagramed them, and took them apart note by note, all in an attempt to reenact the composer’s musical process. Some days, I admit to envying people on the street, those who switched on their respective radios and never gave the notes a second thought. That feeling passed, though, upon the realization that I was being given a gift. I can honestly say I studied music with a genius, Dr. Daniel Crozier, a professor who created and taught the course using nothing but his own ideas.

Music History challenged my professed love of past people and dates. The sheer volume of information given out with the expectation of retention was daunting. During this course, however, I learned not only about musicians, but also about the life, times, cultures, and ideas during these periods of history. Dr. Edmund LeRoy blended subtle humor with volumes of information. His infusion of outside materials helped broaden the learning experience. He brought in film clips, audio CDs, books, and critiques in order for us to understand what we were learning in greater depth.

The Spring 2008 semester was rounded out with my applied music lessons. While this sort of instruction is given for music majors, the relationship I built with Dr. Isidoro dePaula during my weekly one-hour piano lessons has forever influenced the way I approach the piano. His gentle, persistent method of teaching proved to be the finest ingredient in my musical endeavors. Dr. dePaula used constructive methods and urged me to become the best that I could possibly be. He promised measured improvement in exchange for disciplined practice. At first, I balked at such a stringent practice schedule, but I agreed to try it, if only to prove whether or not such an improvement was possible. I saw a difference within the first week of changing my routine! By the end of the semester, I achieved the goals we set together, and I received the highest overall lesson grade of my academic career.

I can’t begin to express all of the gratitude I hold for my Spring 2008 professors. Each taught me something about myself. Their unique styles of teaching and learning shaped my approach to writing, history, music, and study. I found true creativity to be an attainable goal. I discovered new ways to look at and listen to music. I believe in the power of understanding the past in order to shape the future. I know that teaching music the way that it was taught to me became not just an idea, but a burning desire. For all of these reasons, I believe that semester has shaped my outlook on the world around me. In every capacity, I feel better equipped to finish my education at the Holt School, even if I’m not sure about leaving the nest yet.

 
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Read more about... Caroline:

Caroline Schneider is a Florida girl through and through. As a child, the beauty of Rollins captured her attention and cemented her dream of attending not just college, but this college in particular. While majoring in music allows Caroline to showcase her piano playing in community outreach and concert opportunities, she also enjoys putting her English minor to good use in writing for The Sandspur. Currently a senior with her focus set on graduation, Caroline hasn’t quite reconciled herself to the prospect of not being on campus all the time. She may just have to consider a master’s degree…

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